Release Date: Mar 1, 2011
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Ever since Abba went global, Sweden has been a pop paradise, a factory of mathematically perfect hooks. Lykke Li is a different kind of Swedish wunderkind: an ingenious oddball. Her second album is a weird-pop gem — torchy love songs that nod to Sixties hits but are stretched into all kinds of shapes. Li dips into garage rock and wintry folk, but her guiding spirit seems to be Phil Spector, and she laces the music with booming percussion and girl-group-style romantic melodrama.
Swedish songstress Lykke Li decamped to L.A. to write her second album, but it’s hardly a paean to sunshine: ”Sadness is my boyfriend,” a brokenhearted Li sings, sounding like a Nordic hybrid of Lou Reed and Darlene Love. While her 2008 breakout, Youth Novels, was quirky and coy, Wounded Rhymes is hungry, dark, dirty: ”I’m a prostitute, you gon’ get some,” she chants over ominous drums on the subversive single ”Get Some.” It’s futile to deny her.
Without prompting an existential crisis, we’re all human, we all have our highs and lows – we live out the most compelling moments of our wonderful, brief flickers of existence through our emotions, from our deepest miseries to our worthiest triumphs. If there’s any truth to such a suggestion, it seems Li Lykke Timotej Zachrissonhas has lived a life that defies her tender years. Lykke Li, her stage name, is a pretty 25 year old from Sweden, who first broke into the pop world consciousness in 2008 with her first record, Youth Novels, and one who, by her own admission, uses music to say that which is “too hard to actually tell people”.
Lykke Li relocated to Los Angeles from her native Sweden to record Wounded Rhymes, the follow-up to her outstanding debut, Youth Novels (2008). On the surface, LA would seem a better fit for the songstress—the lithe, 24-year-old blonde would turn the heads of the paparazzi even if she weren’t a rising star. However, impeccable fashion sense and classic Hollywood bone structure aside, Li sounds a product of Sweden on this record, through and through.
Chances are, American listeners’ first impression of Lykke Li came from one of two places: her adorably robotic, brokenhearted vocals on Röyksopp’s 2008 track “Miss It So Much,” or the slightly sweet, slightly tragic ditty “Little Bit,” where, as with mostly everything from her debut, Youth Novels, the Swedish singer came off more cute than cutting. Her sophomore effort, Wounded Rhymes, is not so much a stylistic departure as it is a stark transformation of mood: Though still an expert dabbler in gravelly electro-pop, Li sounds positively dangerous now, her voice tormented, biting, and weapon-like, and her accompaniments following suit. She’s almost literally armed to the teeth, her music a seething battle cry of scorned love.
To date, Lykke Li's biggest exposure was her song "Possibility" appearing on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack. From a producer's standpoint, her inclusion was a no-brainer: Not only was her debut titled Youth Novels, but it captured the intense yearning of youth, which is also an aim of the Twilight series. Few indie artists seemed as well poised as Li to vocalize Stephenie Meyer's heroine's point of view.
It is perhaps quaint to ask, in this age of elevator-pitched career etiologies, but does anyone know anything about Lykke Li? Considering how carefully she’s defined herself musically, it’s odd that Li hasn’t taken steps to foster discussion around a public persona. Odd, but hardly unfortunate, mind you. Emphasizing the art over the artist might not be the easiest or quickest way to attract media attention, but considering the buzz she has attracted during the lead-up to the release of Wounded Rhymes, it appears that the lack of high-concept synopsis hasn’t diminished her crossover potential.
Returning to the album game three years after the charmingly curious Youth Novels, Lykke Li Zachrisson has grown up and moved away a little bit from the rather timid, waifish, precocious young woman of her debut. She hasn't entirely let go of her girlish sweetness, and she certainly hasn't lost her way with a melodic hook, but she's largely outgrown the more cloyingly precious, occasionally clumsy tendencies that sometimes plagued her debut, and her singing voice, while still appealingly personable and distinctive, has gotten considerably more forceful. Indeed, despite its vulnerable title, Wounded Rhymes practically oozes confidence, barreling out of the gate with the swaggering, rabble-rousing "Youth Knows No Pain," all in-the-red handclaps, hip-shaking drums and tambourines, and downright nasty, psych-damaged organ, as Li sneeringly exhorts us to "C'mon honey, blow yourself to pieces.
Listening to Swedish pop star Lykke Li's follow-up to 2008's debut Youth Novels, it's easy to forget that she's still only 24-years-old. There's an earnestness and weight to the album that simultaneously gives it its focus, but also makes the listener yearn for some light amidst the bleak post-breakup laments. On Little Bit, the hypnotic centrepiece of her debut, she was "a little bit in love", while here "sadness is her boyfriend", the album recorded in the aftermath of an unrequited love affair.
“Shoo-wop shoo-wah.” “I’m your prostitute.” “Dance while you can.” At the drop of a programmed snare hit, Lykke Li, the Swedish princess of off-beat art-pop, can turn from sugar-coated sweetheart to devilish temptress to futuristic night club siren. That sense of fluctuating identity is what made her debut album, 2008’s Youth Novels such a fascinating listen—her experimental palette ran the gamut from straightforward synth-pop to borderline avant-garde. Li’s catchiest tracks were loaded with big dollops of the weird stuff, and her adventurous touches weren’t enough to scare off casual listeners (demonstrated by her invitation to work on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack).
Swedish indie darling Lykke Li‘s 2008 debut Youth Novels took the world by storm with her irresistible brand of sugary pop. Her high-pitched, fragile vocals paired alongside well-crafted, but not overdone, toe-tapping beats told stories of love, exuding youthful energy that one couldn’t help but smile listening to. Two years later, details of a followup to be titled Wounded Rhymes were released – fear of the dreaded sophomore slump abounded.
Bearing in mind our tendency to dissect female celebrities’ every move, it comes as no surprise that [a]Lykke Li[/a]’s return has been met with cries of, “What the absolute fuck happened to you?” Those who mistook 2008’s [b]‘Youth Novels’[/b] for a compendium of “little girls’ lullabies” – as one tragically under-attentive reviewer put it – gawped in wonder as Swedish pop’s reluctant princess donned her leathers and sexxxed up for (frankly terrifying) comeback [b]‘Get Some’[/b]. The video sees Lykke Mk II glow with fury; garbed like an occult lady of the night, she makes, er, unambiguous gestures at her crotch while straddling an unsuspecting mic stand. Nursery rhyme this is not.
First world problems are a bitch. The concept is as follows: comfort is relative. Those of us with actual problems, I would postulate, will devote X percent of their mental energies to worrying about them. What constitutes actual problems? In Britain I would categorize them as thus: terminal illness, an inscrutably awful 'Mad Dogg Deon'-esque spouse, a club foot, colour blindness, financial hardship, homelessness, or an uncontrollable addiction to frosting.
LYKKE LI plays the Phoenix May 22. See listing. Rating: NN On her sophomore album, Swedish pop singer Lykke Li can't seem to shake the feelings of restlessness and heartache that marked her debut, Youth Novels. But this time around she's less ambivalent about what it all means.. While the minimal ….
Lykke Li This Swedish indie-pop warbler has often done a lot with a little — consider the suggestive wisps of melody all over “Youth Novels” (LL/Atlantic), her 2008 debut — but she’s no minimalist, at least not anymore. “Wounded Rhymes,” her follow-up on the same label, has thumping ….
Produced by Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn & John, Lykke Li's sophomore Rhymes spins rich electronic and organic instrumentation both deep and broad. Meanwhile, her reedy Swedish timbre coats melancholic. Though written and recorded in Los Angeles, there's not much sun here. Li's at turns woeful, resolving to "get back what [she] gave to men" ("Unrequited Love"), salty and lascivious ("Get Some"), and tritely juvenile ("Sadness is my boyfriend"?).
Words always seem to be so easily dispensable for some reason or another. Often, they seem to be obligatory and, from time to time, they’re frantic. And sometimes, people use them in the daintiest of ways so that when the right person connects them with an aesthetic wonder like music, the impact always seems to be that much more substantial. For just-recently-turned-25-year-old Lykke Li, her latest album is a celebrated work of art for the best of reasons.
An outstanding album which improves upon the Swedish singer’s great debut. Lou Thomas 2011 Despite acres of critical acclaim, Lykke Li’s debut album Youth Novels barely registered with the public outside of the Swedish singer’s home country. A tender blend of the funky, the sensual and the elliptical, the 2008 record will probably be discovered by gleeful new fans shortly after this second album kicks the singer’s profile up several notches.